Leadership in a Culture of Cowardice (part nineteen)

We’re investigating a fifth leadership concept: Don’t “push on the rope”: the unmotivated are invulnerable to insight.

I ask you to consider that people have trained themselves, through their lives, as to how they respond to change. All change. Every change.

Last time we introduced the pioneers. These are your visionaries, riskers, outcome-focused action-takers. Their primary concern is not safety, nor reputation. Pioneers thirst to make things better. Period. Full stop.

The majority in any established congregation, however, aren’t pioneers.
They are ‘belongers’.

33 belongersBelongers are God’s gift to you! They build community. They are stabilizers. Many of them are great, reliable workers in the bowels of your ministry.

They don’t like to stick out. They’ve trained themselves to move with the group, the community. Which is why they’re called “belongers”. Pioneers don’t care about fitting in. They care about making a difference. But, for belongers, it’s different. Very different.

Belongers will change when certain conditions are met.

Primary among these is whether the proposed change will succeed and be safe. They will embrace change when they decide it is safe and successful to do soand not before.

You’ll never see a ‘belonger’ on the leading-edge of change.

No matter how good a leader you are, they won’t. It’s how they’ve trained themselves. And, pastor, you’re not gonna change that.

Only they can.

Most won’t.

33 resistersThis leaves a third group. The resisters.

Resisters are steady. Loyal to what’s been. They show up whenever the doors are open. Traditionalists, they engage in church life much the same way people have for decades. They still tithe.

Resisters have trained themselves to avoid the possibility of loss.

They’re not likely to implement any change that can be delayed. A core motivation is to avoid being wrong, to avoid failure.

Resisters will embrace change, but not until the discomfort of not changing is greater than the risk they associate with the change.

Resisters and pioneers interpret life in mutually-exclusive ways. When a pioneer is presented an opportunity, as soon as she sees the possibility of improvement, her default is: “Why not?” The resister will intuit the possibility of failure or loss and think: “Why take an imprudent risk?” The belonger will move, but not ‘til it’s “safe”.

The culture you’ve established in your congregation will determine the predominance of each group. Curiously, “church” is one of the few places in American society where resisters can gather en masse. I suppose government is the other. Think bureaucracy, not politicians.

Here’s the key: Pastor, live with your pioneers!

Every week, insure that you spend most of your time with them. In the next blog, we’ll clarify what to do when you’re together, so the change you believe God wants, actually takes hold in the congregation.

For now, work to clear your calendar of resisters, and fill it with pioneers. It may take three months or more to wean yourself away from the passion-extinguishing tantruming of the unmotivated.

33 calendar
Proactively schedule your office appointments with those who are most responsive to your leadership.

Invest generously in their lives. Support them as they grow in Christ. You’ll enjoy it a lot more, and more Kingdom fruit will be borne, as well.

By autumn, you could be leaping into your workweek with a vigor, optimism, and enthusiasm that most of your folks have never seen in you.